The innaugural Frieze Masters fair in London.

 

LONDON - Old Masters in China? Hair-brained only ten, if not five years ago – not so now. In tune with their economy, the Chinese are the fastest growing nationality of buyers at our evening sales, by a country mile. Sotheby's takes twenty-five Old Masters there next month for the first time for a three-day exhibition and, frankly, I can't wait to see what the uptake is. So far our Chinese buyers have shown a taste for the very detailed, so amongst other things we're exhibiting a selection of minutely observed, hyperrealist Dutch and Flemish still lifes.

Staying with the theme of the new, Frieze Masters has just closed its doors after a brief four-day run. The point here, for a long established core of old master dealers, was to try to snatch a buyer or two from the oft-maligned world of contemporary art. Some tried harder than others.


Where one gallery, as far as I could tell, simply replicated the same stand they had featured at Maastricht for the past umpteen years, others threw caution to the wind and tried something completely innovative to catch the contemporary eye. Koetser encased his paintings in bottomless and topless packing crates and suspended them from the ceiling, and in so-doing made two massive sales to brand new clients. Coll y Cortés brought much needed youth and minimalism into the mix, exhibiting just a handful of items in a beautifully designed space.

The old has its place but last week, as next month in China will be, was all about bringing something new to the party and chucking out those old, dyed in the wool inhibitions. Long may that continue.